Atlanta — This week, Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi and Texas were approved by the Southern Regional Education Board to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). These states bring the number of participating states to 34, with over half the SREB states participating in SARA.
SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, $200,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and fees paid by institutions.
“The State of Maryland is very fortunate to have a partnership with the State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) because it affords increased opportunities for Marylanders to make right decisions in their pursuit of quality education, both in state and online. SARA's exceptional quality control standards will help assure equity in opportunity for all students on the continuum of college and workforce readiness." Dr. Hunter-Cevera adds, "The Maryland Higher Education Commission's decision to become a part of SARA was strategically the right thing to do in this era of doing more with less, to ensure the delivery of high quality, rigorous and relevant instruction."
SARA makes it easier for states to regulate interstate distance education, and it eliminates approval costs for colleges and universities that are often passed to students. Institutions in the five SREB states may now join the clearinghouse through the reciprocity agreements.
“Increasing the number of Mississippians with a credential of value beyond high school is crucial for our citizens and our state,” said Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Joining SARA puts a wealth of courses at the fingertips of our students and eases the administrative burden on our universities. This initiative will be extremely beneficial to adult students, who are often place-bound and must manage classes with employment and family responsibilities.” “We are pleased that Mississippi will join in this effort to make it easier for our institutions to participate in interstate distance education,” said Dr. Harold Fisher, Chair of the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation.
“Georgia educational leaders immediately recognized the value of participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” said Corinna Robinson, Executive Director for the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission. “The University System, Technical College System, Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission and the Georgia Independent College Association collaborated to provide the necessary framework within the state. Each system realizes that joining SARA is a win-win situation for our students. We anticipate possible cost savings and a wider range of access to programs and degrees. SARA advances these objectives.”
“SARA increases access to education especially for adult students who juggle other responsibilities when they return to complete degrees, says SREB President Dave Spence. “Education remains critical to state goals to increase college completion rates and build a better-educated workforce.”
“The availability of an excellent education has been expanded through distance learning and this added tool of membership in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” said Gregory G. Fitch, executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. “The Alabama Commission on Higher Education always has advocated utilizing every available resource to keep pace with the ever-changing structure of an educational delivery system. The State’s partnership with the regional compact and National SARA Council will benefit Alabama’s citizens and our institutions in dealing with the competitive nature of offering higher education.”